Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology
The witch as a figure possesses a powerful and enduring legacy in Euro-American culture; she is both a victim of patriarchal persecution and the natural enemy of a deeply-gendered society. Recent horror films that employ the witch, however, have generally done so in the form of reclaimed feminist icon: a violently retributive figure avenging the wrongs done to women both past and present. The purpose of this research is to provide insight about our acutely gendered society and culture in the times during and preceding the #MeToo movement through a semiological analysis of three recent horror films that center on the figure of the witch – specifically, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Robert Eggers’s The Witch and André Øvredal’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe – and by engaging with the sociological, historical and filmic contexts inherent to the witch as a horror icon. By engaging with the iconography and contexts of the witch in different ways, these three films demonstrate the changing gendered landscape of the last decade. And despite these films’ best efforts to unmoor the witch from her status as a villain, the enduring legacy of the witch-as-monster has proved remarkably resistant to both recontextualization and reexamination.
Hadsell, Brian Joseph, "Men, Women and Witchcraft: the Feminist Reclamation of the Witch in the Modern Horror Film" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 1332.